Ultimate California Apricot Cheesecake

Courtesy of the Apricot Producers of California

Makes: 12 servings

Ingredients

1 cup ground vanilla wafers (approx. 25 wafers)
1 cup ground California Almonds
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
6 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
1, 15.25 oz. can California Apricot halves, drained and puréed
1, 15.25 oz. can California Apricot halves, drained for garnish
1/4 cup sugar

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the ground vanilla wafers, ground almonds and melted butter.  Stir with a fork until mixed.  Pat the crumb mixture over the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of a 10″ springform pan.  Cook crumb mixture in oven for 10 minutes.  Cool.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until it is soft and fluffy.  Add the 3/4 cup sugar and beat again until mixture is well blended.  Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, until mixture is fluffy.  Add the vanilla extract, sour cream and apricot purée, mixing until blended.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they begin to hold soft peaks.  Slowly add the 1/4 cup sugar, and beat mixture until whites form stiff peaks.  Fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture.

Pour the cream cheese batter into the prepared crust.  Bake for 1 hour until golden brown and the cake has puffed.  Remove from the oven and cool the cake.  Refrigerate several hours, or overnight before serving.

Garnish:  1, 15.25 ounce can apricot halves, drained.  Cut apricot halves into wedges.  Place cheesecake on serving platter and place the apricot wedges around the cake.